Federal wildlife act worthy of Congressional investment
It is known officially now as H.R. 3742, but before, in 2016, it was H.R. 4647 – the federal Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.
The proposed act would provide an estimated $1.3 billion in revenues derived from energy and mineral development on federal lands and waters, to be used for wide-ranging conservation of habitat and all wildlife species, from mammals and fish and frogs to birds, bats, butterflies, bees, and more. Under the current proposal, Ohio’s estimated portion of the funding would amount to $28 million annually.
With as many as one-third of America’s plant and animal species in decline and vulnerable, 3742 is a bipartisan bill in Congress and offers a chance to boost wildlife protection without attracting the usual opposition.
But unless you and I get our Congressmen and Senators in Washington to do something productive for a change, 3742 will rattle around like pebbles in a rusty tin can and die just like its identical predecessor, 4647, did in the previous Congress. Which is sad, given that this is a no-brainer bill that cannot possibly do anything but accrue political capital for our elected representatives, regardless of party.
Six Ohio Congress members so far are co-sponsors of H.R. 3742, among 151 in all to date. The rest of the Ohio contingent also should sign on. Gov. Mike DeWine also has expressed support for the bill, along with five other Great Lakes governors.
Ohio’s share of the possible revenue — about $28 million annually — could spark a quantum leap in wildlife conservation. Currently only about $2 million of the Division of Wildlife’s $65 million annual budget goes to protect threatened and endangered species because the division is funded almost entirely by fees and taxes paid by hunters, anglers, and trappers. Those funds mostly, and reasonably, support game species.
The proposed bill, still languishing in U.S. House natural resources and budget committees, would require states to put up matching funds, project by project. In Ohio, that would mean $9 million. Money could go toward buying land and managing it for wildlife — controlled burns to maintain prairies, removal of invasive species, restoring wetlands, plus support for private groups that do such work.
You can learn more online how 3742 would benefit Ohio at: http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/recovering-americas-wildlife-act
Then lend your support by backing the efforts of the Alliance for America’s Fish & Wildlife, online at http://ournatureusa.com/
Next year is an election year. Our federal politicians – all members of the House and a third of the Senate – will be hawking for your vote. Leverage that power -– call, email, write, ask. Do nothing and we’ll get nothing.